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Search warrant delays in Child Pornography Cases

Search warrant delays in Child Pornography Cases

It is very common for South Carolina child pornography arrests to come months, or even a year or more, after the police initially begin their investigation. The way this usually happens is that the police will determine that a specific computer IP address or Google account (or some other identifier) is involved in downloading or uploading child pornography. This can be from a file sharing network, by email, or using a cloud-based storage system.

Note: South Carolina’s child pornography law is called sexual exploitation of a minor

Once the police receive this information, they will use subpoenas to locate the physical address and name of the suspect. Then they will obtain a search warrant for that address. This is where the delay occurs, in-between the initial information and the obtaining of a search warrant.

This delay can be months or a year or more. That is the time in-between when the police receive the information that is the basis for the search warrant, and actually applying for and obtaining the warrant. The legal issue is that how can it be fair to issue a search warrant based on such old information? You don’t normally see these kinds of delays in other cases, but they are very common with child pornography.

There is no set rule as to how long of a delay can be legally valid. Instead, it is important to raise an objection to delays in every case and require the court to make a specific ruling on a case-by-case basis.  If the search warrant can be effectively challenged this can lead to a suppression of not only any illegal pornography found (and dismissal of those charges), but could also lead to suppression of any confession or other incriminating statements made to the police.

If you've been charged with any child pornography offense in South Carolina state or federal court you are invited to contact our office for a free consultation. We may be reached at 1-888-301-6004.


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